Ghana is the only country in Sub-Saharan Africa that has met the Millennium Development Goal of reducing extreme poverty in half by 2015, and it is also among the most developed countries in the region.

According to the World Bank Group, 24.3 percent of Ghana’s population is living below the poverty line, down from 31.9 percent in 2005. Even with substantial developments, there still remain certain challenges that hinder progress in Ghana. Similar to many nations in the developing world, poverty in Ghana is largely due to social and economic inequalities among its citizens. Ghana’s economic growth has also slowed down significantly over the past few years, affecting many cities across the region including the capital of Accra. According to the World Bank Group, the gross domestic product (GDP) declined from 7.3 percent in 2013 to an estimated 4.2 percent in 2014. The slowed growth was a result of inflation and a fall in currency, which has also impacted many areas in the region such as Accra.

Accra, the capital of Ghana, is considered one of the largest cities in the country. The country has an estimated population of more than 2 million people and holds approximately 10 percent of Ghana’s entire population. Although Ghana’s economic progress has slowed down, its capital is still a leading force in the nation. For example, Accra has among the lowest poverty rates in the country when compared to other cities in the region.

The city serves as the focal point for the region’s economic development, with the service industry employing over 530,000 people. However, the city also has a high unemployment rate with approximately 12.2 percent of the population, amounting to 114,198 people, reportedly unemployed. This is a contributing factor to Ghana’s urban poverty. The population dwelling within the city relies heavily on employment and income, both of which are critical sources for sufficient livelihoods. In turn, high food prices and income inequalities further impact urban poverty in Accra.

Apart from city dwellers, poverty permeates a significant amount of rural areas in Accra. There are 79 communities within Accra including Ga Mashie, James Town, Chorkor and Nima, identified as three of the most high poverty communities in the region. The indigenous populations found throughout Accra are some of the most vulnerable. For example, communities in areas like Ga, which had initially derived its livelihood from farming and fishing, are now considered to be among the poorest in the region. Additionally, households headed by women within these communities experience significantly higher poverty rates.

The reason why Accra still has a large percentage of the population living below the poverty line is partly due to the lack of information provided about these communities. It is difficult to focus on an area with need when not enough information or knowledge is being conveyed; as a result, progress in the area has been hindered.

Even with all the challenges Ghana has been facing, it is still one of the most developed countries in the region. Urban and rural poverty resulting from social and political inequalities are reason enough for concern, even as Accra remains one of the more stable and developed cities in the region. With a more focused post-2015 development framework that addresses the social and economic inequalities in Ghana, the region can continue progressing.

– Nada Sewidan

Sources: World Bank, IPA, UNICEF, Action 2015
Photo: Two Years in Ghana

When you were little, you may have wondered where the souls of your deceased pets went, but have you ever wondered where defunct or discarded electronics go? After all, they have to be disposed somewhere. In the Ghanaian capital Accra is the Pearly Gate—or perhaps more appropriately the limbo—of the electronic dead.

Agbogbloshie (altogether now, come on: uh-g-bog-blo-shee), a suburb of the capital, is the world’s largest e-dumpsite. Here, many scrap dealers—mainly economic migrants from the poorest parts of Ghana—are busy toiling their days away dismantling non-figurative tons and tons of gadget remains. When their day at work is over, they return to nearby shantytown called Old Fadama whose sobriquet is—and I kid you not—“Sodom and Gomorrah.”

There are around 80,000 residents in this shantytown of around 3, 000 square feet. In order to retrieve metals and other sellable materials, children and young adults smash and burn these toxic. Operating without any safety equipment, most workers laboring in this horrendous condition die from cancer within their 20s. For many who work on the dumpsite, if they were to get injured or ill, medical care would be beyond their means, translating to s shortened life expectancy.

As for the living condition in “Sodom and Gomorrah,” which is the country’s biggest slum, they are appallingly precarious. Aside from being located adjacently to the world’s biggest e-dumpsite, the community also lacks basic sanitation such as running water, waste collection, and medical care. It is also estimated that around 49% of the inhabitants of this slum do not have any education at all.

Furthermore, due to the infamy brought with extreme impoverished, the district and its inhabitants are highly stigmatized in the Ghanaian society. Perhaps due to this attitude, this poisonous shantytown has long suffered negligence from the society at large. Despite the fact that there is pressure to relocate its inhabitants, an endeavor for which the Ghanaian government has allocated almost $13 million (in USD), this effort has been met with strong resistance from its targets. It is evident that the dwellers view the government’s effort as forced eviction rather than an attempt to improve their living standard.

The case of Old Fadama is not the only instance of extreme poverty and destitution in Accra. The People’s Dialogue on Human Settlement estimates that around 80% of the city’s residents live in slums—though with varying degrees of material inadequacy.

The situation in Agbogbloshie also raises the question of the responsibility that consumers all over the world must take with regard to their electronic consumption. Even though dumping their broken or unfashionable apparatuses in Ghana may provide the residents of Old Fadama with paltry incomes, their health and wellbeing are greatly compromised.

Where then should these electronic devices be disposed? By whom? And, perhaps, the most important questions of all in the cosmos of consumerism—what will be the cost and who will pay for it?

Peewara Sapsuwan

Photo: Trade 2 Save
Think Africa PressThink Africa Press, The Guardian, Ghana, GhanaWeb

The band One Direction includes five boys: Niall Horan, Harry Styles, Zayn Malik, Louie Tomlinson, and Liam Payne. They recently visited some of the poorer areas of Accra, Ghana as part of Red Nose Day. One Direction is helping an organization called Comic Relief by giving the proceeds of their upcoming single, “One Way or Another,” to the charity. This single was made as part of the Red Nose Day project, which often give proceeds to the area of Ghana that the boys visited. Comic Relief is an organization that aims to eliminate poverty worldwide through the form of entertainment. They have two main campaigns: Red Nose Day and Sport Relief. Sport Relief is a program that involves thousands of people to run a certain number of miles while raising money at the same time through sponsorship. There are also a few other scattered sports-related events to raise money throughout the year. The other campaign, Red Nose Day, is the project that One Direction have chosen to involve themselves in. The band is helping Comic Relief by following the basic idea of this program: to raise money while enjoying themselves; in this case, through music. Also, One Direction is helping the Comic Relief  Organization by visiting Ghana. When they visited Ghana as part of their video, they encountered the lifestyles of those living in the impoverished areas. The boys in One Direction have said their experience in Ghana was life-changing and moving. During the trip, some of the boys were brought to tears by the school they visited, and the children attending it. Harry Styles commented, “If you get involved in it and you don’t cry, you’re superhuman.” Overall, the boys want to have a positive impact on as many peoples’ lives as possible. To see the band being interviewed on the subject, click here. – Corina Balsamo Sources: Comic Relief, One Direction Music, Belfast Telegraph